However, the important thing to note here is that you must obey the law. Obviously, people that take their firearms and indiscriminately shoot at passersby are no longer law abiding citizens, they are criminals. Their right to retain that firearm was surrendered the moment they opened fire on innocent people.
This responsibility to use a firearm in a safe and legal manner also extends to what you do with the firearm when it is not in use. It is your firearm, and therefore whatever happens involving the firearm is also your legal responsibility, even if you’re not the one using it.
Tragedy In Indiana
Sadly, we have a perfect example what this responsibility means that has happened recently. On April 18, 2018, in Merrillville, Indiana, 21 year old Menzo Brazier was in a vehicle with his pregnant girlfriend, her one year old boy, and her three year old daughter. The group stopped at a store, so that Mr. Brazier could buy something, and he left the vehicle in order to conduct his transaction at the store. All of this seems normal, except that Mr. Brazier was also carrying his 9 mm pistol, which he decided to place on the center console of the car, loaded, with a magazine inserted.
As Mr. Brazier entered the store to make his purchase, the three year old girl grabbed the gun, which was in easy reach, and played with it, triggering the gun and discharging a round. The gunshot went through the soldier of Mr. Brazier’s girlfriend and she was hospitalized. In this case, Mr. Brazier was charged with child endangerment, and it’s clear to any sensible person that you should not leave a loaded firearm in easy reach of a child in a car.
However, this same scenario, if it played out in the home, would still have legal ramifications, though now, in addition to child endangerment, there would likely be additional charges such as negligence and/or premises liability.
A Castle Should Be Fortified
Your home is yours, and as the old saying goes, you may view it as your castle, but that also means you have certain legal responsibilities to maintain. Premises liability is something a personal injury lawyer has a lot of expertise in handling, and while the most common cause of a premises liability case in court is for a slip and fall in a public space, that doesn’t mean that’s the only type of lapse in “environmental law” that can occur.
The proper storage of firearms is another issue that a homeowner must take responsibility for, and if an accident occurs where a firearm is accessed by someone unauthorized, and this results in an injury, or even a death, an investigation needs to be conducted to determine if anyone is at fault. If it is eventually decided that the issue was caused by improper storage of a firearm, then that means that the owner of the home and the firearm must now bear the legal responsibility of that injury or death in court, especially if family members of the victim decide to move forward with a lawsuit to seek damages for either injury or wrongful death.
This is why if you’re exercising your constitutional right to own a firearm, you should also understand that it comes with the legal responsibility to store it properly. If you have a pistol for home defense, and you leave it in the night table drawer, fully loaded, with the drawer itself unlocked and accessible to anyone, you leave yourself in a very legally vulnerable position.
In the same way, if you have an AR-15 at home, and you throw a pool party, leaving that AR-15 on the table next to the soft drinks, if a child should take up that weapon and start shooting it, resulting in injuries and/or deaths, that is the very definition of premises liability. You have created an environment where an avoidable, totally unnecessary injury or death has now easily occurred because you left something in that environment, knowing it could cause potentially great harm, but choosing to ignore that fact as a matter of inconvenience. In such a situation, a personal injury lawyer will no difficulty building an effective negligence case..